Green Sleeves

Surfers are like the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to testing ocean health, so it follows that the surf community is often on the leading edge of both youth and green retail. Granted, the average shopper in the eighteen-to-twenty-four demographic is probably not in the market for a nontoxic board form, but buyers looking for the latest in eco-hip, from bamboo skateboards to recycled plastic board shorts, found those things and more at last month's ASR (Action Sports Apparel) trade show in San Diego, California.

Though Patagonia is still the acknowledged leader in combining organic outdoor clothing with environmental activism, more youth-oriented and urban brands like Quicksilver, Etnies, and Volcom are tentatively introducing products made of organic cotton and hemp to see if teens will dig a little deeper into their pockets for hip clothes that carry an eco message.

And those pockets had better be deep because the biggest stumbling block for anything organic is often the expense. Organic cotton costs around 20% more to produce than cotton treated with pesticides to repel insects, a cost that gets passed along to the consumer. And most school-age kids aren't going to be able to convince their parents to pay more for that organic American Apparel tee unless the parents are already eco-conscious and willing to vote with their children's clothing budget. has a fantastic page of links for budget- and eco-conscious youth who want to recycle, re-use, and look awesome without making more dents in the planet, having to beg their parents for money, or get another after school job.

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